Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet

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Seabees Join the Foal Eagle Exercise in Korea

By Petty Officer 1st Class Torrey Lee | March 14, 2017

U.S. 7TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY -- Foal Eagle is an annual, bilateral training exercise designed to enhance the readiness of U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) forces and their ability to work together during a crisis. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 is sharing the unit’s field experience with ROK navy construction battalions.

“It’s interesting working with the ROK engineers,” said Lt.j.g. John Watkins, an engineering officer assigned to NMCB 5. “They’re a new force. Their NMCBs are only two years old. They want to partner with the U.S. naval construction force as much as possible and absorb our knowledge.”

NMCB 5 initiated training through a series of in-classroom training sessions. Utilitiesman 1st Class William Murphy talked to his ROK counterparts about Seabee work ethic.

“Our Seabees are trained to work hard, and they don’t quit until the job is done,” said Murphy. “We bring an ethic that a lot of our partners look for. You give us a deadline and we say ‘let’s go.’ So working with such a junior unit, we can really develop that work ethic here.”

After completing the training sessions, the two nations’ units began instruction at the ROK Naval Education and Training Command’s on-base training site. The site included several crisis response situations geared toward construction.

“These are very real scenarios for this area,” said Watkins. “Our ability to integrate with these units brings a huge advantage to both of our countries. We need the ability to complete projects that fit both of our [countries’] standards.”

Equipped with specialists from various construction areas, NMCB 5 has integrated with ROK forces and begun information exchanges. Murphy, who has led five similar projects, said this exercise should be no different from previous exchanges. He said his Seabees were motivated and even his junior construction men were up to the challenge of being field mentors.

“We are getting a lot from the U.S. construction battalions,” said Lt. Song Gieun, a ROK construction battalion officer. “We desire the ability to be able to work with the U.S. units and complete a mission immediately.”

NMCBs provide expeditionary construction and engineering support to expeditionary bases and respond to humanitarian assistance disaster relief (HADR) requests.
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